The quality of organic, eco-friendly and fair-trade wines has come a long way since early efforts. The bonus? Most are inexpensive. Here’s our recommendations and guide for decoding the labels and selecting the best.
What it means: As with any organic product, these wines are produced without chemical fertilizers, antibiotics, synthetic hormones, artificial
ingredients, genetic engineering, fungicides, preservatives, or irradiation. They must contain less than 5 percent nonorganic
ingredients, or none whatsoever to be labeled “100% organic.”
Our Recommendation: Our Daily Red California Red Wine ($10)
Tastes like: earthy, easy drinking basic red
Serve with: your favorite steak, hearty pasta dishes
What it means: Not all wines made with organically grown grapes can be labeled “organic.” That’s because some winemakers add sulfites as
an antibacterial preservative to extend shelf life (and enable wines to ship long distances), disqualifying it for the organic
label. Other winemakers choose not to incur the expense of certification.
Our Recommendation: Bonterra Vineyards Viognier ($18)
Tastes like: apricots, tropical flowers, and a bit of citrus.
Serve with: seafood, Asian or Indian food, smoked seafood
What it means: Sulfites appear naturally in many fermented foods and are added as preservatives to kill bacteria. Winemakers often add sulfites
to prevent oxidation that would spoil wines. 100% organic wine does not have added sulfites, though they may have occurred
Our Recommendation: Frey Biodynamic Syrah ($17)
Tastes like: plums, boysenberries
Serve with: beef, hearty pastas, and chocolate
What it means: Biodynamic organic winemakers use an astronomical calendar―with positions of the moon and planets―to determine planting and
harvesting dates (like the planting tables in The Old Farmer’s Almanac). Homeopathic concoctions are used in the vineyard
Our Recommendation: Copper Hill Pinot Noir ($20)
Tastes like: wild cherries, stone fruit
Serve with: salmon, veal chops, roast duck
What it means: The laborers producing the grapes and wine receive living wages and work in a healthy and safe environment. Fair trade certification
is not currently available for domestically produced wines, but appears on certain wines from South Africa, Chile, and Argentina.
Our Recommendation: Goue Vallei Classique Blanc ($12)
Tastes like: apples, guava, and melon
Serve with: oysters, shrimp, fish
What it means: Animal products are not used to produce the wine at any stage. Some vegetarian producers use albumen (egg white) or casein
(a milk by-product) for clarifying or reducing sediment, but vegan friendly wines use a clay-type product for clarification.
Our Recommendation: Can Vendrell Cava Brut Reserva ($20)
Tastes like: lemon, peaches, nuts
Serve with: oysters, sushi, smoked salmon
Yes, and it’s yummy! It’s called Tetra Pak―a lightweight, shatter-proof alternative to wine bottles. It differs from other
boxed wine containers, which are plastic bags inside corrugated cardboard boxes. Both types allow more wine per container
weight than bottled wine and generally cost less to transport.
Our Recommendation: Yellow + Blue Malbec (1-liter Tetra Pak, $12)
Tastes like: berries, plus, and a hint of spice
Serve with: burgers, lamb chops, chili, roast chicken
Our Recommendation: Lolonis Winegrower Selection Petite Sirah Sisters Blend ($32)
Tastes like: blackberries, caramel, plums
Serve with: lamb, beef, game
Our Recommendation: Robert Sinskey Vin Gris of Pinot Noir ($22)
Tastes like: berries, flowers, and melon
Serve with: whole roasted fish, antipasto platter, chilled soup